Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It was the night before departure...

My bags are packed, clothes laid out & alarm clock set! I don't think it'll hit me that I'm actually leaving until I step out of the car at the airport tomorrow morning. But I am really excited! I told one of my friends here that I'm going to kiss the ground when I got off the plane in Atlanta, haha.

I really enjoyed my last week here though. Yesterday some young people from church throw me a goodbye party =D! It's sad to think that just as I was beginning to finally make friends I'm leaving. But apparently I'll get to see several of them again tomorrow morning. A couple are coming to the house around 8am to say goodbye, others are meeting us at the airport! =)

In my last blog I was going to do a recap of sorts but because it hasn't hit me yet that I'm leaving I don't think I can do it justice. Hopefully after debriefing in Kansas City, I can.

I'm so thankful to have had these 9 weeks in Argentina. I can't wait to see every one & tell more stories in person. Thank you so much to everyone who helped me in any way in this adventure =D.

11:35am depart from Mendoza to Santiago, Chile
7 hour layover in Santiago
8pm depart for Atlanta, Georgia
6am arrive
7:25am depart for Kansas City, MO (hope i don't miss this flight)
8:30am arrive in KS

Homeward Bound,
Michaela Rae

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"Michaela, Michaela, wake up!!"

"...It's snowing in Mendoza!"

As rare as it is in Mendoza, it was indeed snowing! Beth & I ran outside before the sun had risen & took photos. After sleeping another hour or so I woke up & took some more. About the 4th time I've seen snow & certainly the 1st time I've seen it in July!

Now if only I can experience a tremor before I leave! =)
Michaela Rae

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

End in sight

The end of my stay here is in sight. 7 more full days! I have mixed feelings. I miss home, I miss my family & my close friends. However, the challenges I face here make me view myself, the future, the people around me & the world in general, in a new light. I like the new perspective I am gaining. As much as I have often despised the amount of down time I have here, it has allowed me to sort through several things in my life. Many of which were long over due. I don't want to allow myself again to become so emerged in the grind of school & work that I neglect seeking, questioning, writing, etc.
God gives us life, not just to live in order to get from one day to the next, but to live in FULL. Alive! Aware, learning, stretching, being transformed by the renewing of our minds. I don't want to fall back into patterns I have had at home.

Over the past few days, Beth & I have had so many incredible conversations. We are discovering how extremely alike we are & having fun bouncing stories about ourselves back & forth & comparing how we have handled certain situations. She has offered me a lot of useful advice, some I couldn't have gotten from any of my peers. It is certain, these 2 months have taught me the importance of having friendships with older people. People who are willing to be honest & willing to shed light on areas of life you have not yet discovered or fully understood. I hope to invest more in these types of friendships when I return home.

I visited the barrio I mentioned in my previous post, Barrio Esejo. It was, as I expected, an eye opening experience. Sure, you can read stories & view pictures about the poverty in the world, but nothing equals the experience & knowledge you gain from seeing those places with your own eyes, hugging & kissing the people or smelling the odor they live in every day. It was humbling. Claudia has an amazing compassion for reaching these people, especially the young people. After inroducting me to the boys & girls there she would explain to me their stories, tell me which drug they smelt like, why they had resorted to them & how she hoped to help them. It was heart renching to meet the 12 & 14 year old drug dealers. & heart renching to meet their younger siblings, who unless helped, will most likely fall into the same traps in life. Please pray for Claudia & her ministry to the drug addicts.

Michaela Rae

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cacheuta & 2 decades of life

The past 4 days were incredible. Along with the other leaders of Corazones Abiertos, Beth & I went up to a place in the Andes called Cacheuta. The cabañas we stayed in were surrounded by beathtaking mountains & crystal clear rivers. A truly refreshing change of pace & scenery.

The first couple days the ladies held meetings. A few of which I participated in, others during which I went exploring. The meetings I participated in were really great. I finally got to see some of the inner workings of Corazones Abiertos. It is truly a powerful ministry. I find it unfortunate that there are so few ministries similar to it. I was encouraged in learning many stories of God's healing power in the lives of the ladies there. I was also challenged to examine myself & I realized new areas inwhich I need healing & transformation.

During one of the meetings Monday, I decided to climb a mountain. My Florida eyes did not do my surroundings justice. It was not until I started the climb (literally on all 4s at times) that I began to realize the scale & magnificance of what was before & around me. When I reached my destination - the top - I sat for a long time, thinking on things like: how much water it must have taken for the world to be completely flooded, what the earth must look like from the perspective of a bird & how it is that I am able to pray to the Creater of the heavens & the earth.

Tuesday, was my birthday & I was convinced 10 minutes after waking up to walk with Pablito, the 14 year old son of one of the women there, to see how much it cost to go horse back riding. Reluctantly I went...it's so cold in the morning, I hadn't eaten & it's especially tough for me to communicate in another language in the morning! Pablito was full of questions. He kept asking me things I either didn't understand or didn't know how to answer. I found it odd that he kept wanting to show me random things & take the long route of walking for everything. But when I arrived back to the cabaña, I discovered a wonderful surprise brunch from all the ladies! It was so sweet of them. It nearly brought me to tears. They even had a little bag full of gifts for me. One of which was a 850g bar of white chocolate!!

I had a wonderful birthday! I missed sharing it with family & friends, but for it being a birthday in another country, with a bunch of people I hardly know, I couldn't have asked for anything better. =) I believe out of all the time I have spent here thus far, I have been the most content & at peace these past few days. Thank you for your prayers =).

I have a special prayer request for this comming weekend. One of the CA leaders, Claudia, has an incredible story. She & her husband were a drug dealers for many years. Now a Christian, Claudia chose to leave her husband who, although dying of AIDS, continually abused her physically. She now has a ministry to drug addicts. She regularly visits very poor barrios (neighborhoods) to minister. I asked her if I could go & she said I can this Saturday. It is dangerous to visit these barrios unless you are familiar to the people there or you go with someone who is. Claudia understands the lifestyle of the people & is respected by many. She has instructed me to wear the trashiest clothes I have, to not wear jewerly or anything that would draw attention & to hide my camera until she gives the "ok" to take photos.
I desire to see how these people live, to gain a better understanding of reality. I know by going, my perspective in life will be challenged.

Love you all!

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Yes, la epidemia de gripe is sweeping throughout Argentina, but never fear...

the masks the government is telling you to wear are indeed stylish!

Michaela Rae =)

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Gripe (in Spanish), aka the Swine Flu, aka H1N1 (oh so politically correct), has been all the rage here in Argentina for the past couple of weeks. Last Friday, the death toll in Argentina was 44. As the regular flu season continues, & it indeed seems to be a bad one, the media is doing a wonderful job of reminding everyone about the swine flu epademic. At the first sign of sniffles, people are rushing to the hospital to make sure it's not the deadly N1H1.

All schools have been let out & the government has issued safety recommendations such as staying a meter away from each other at all times, not having public gatherings, washing your hands (origional!) & wearing masks. Talk is that the government may decide all stores must close & public meetings be suspended for as long as 3 weeks. Interesting that the government didn't begin making a scene until directly after the elections 2 weeks ago.

Last night Beth & the other CA leaders decided to suspend the Intensive seminar we have been preparing for. But because a deposit has already been put down for the retreat location, Beth & I along with the other leaders are still going up Sunday-Tuesday. It's a beautiful place in the mountains. I'm looking forward to a change of pace & scenery =).

Although I am skeptical of all the Gripe hype, I certainly hope it doesn't affect my trip home in 3 weeks. So please pray things begin to calm & return to normal.

I'm beginning to work on my final report for the internship. In doing so I'm reminded that I still have a life back in Tallahassee. This summer has been a chain of events so unlike any I've ever experience. Part of me finds it unbelievable that I'll be going back to anything remotely similar to what I'm used to.

~Michaela Rae

Saturday, July 4, 2009

An independence day like none other

I was abruptly awoken this morning by the sound of fireworks. I turned over to look at the sky-light in my room & saw their flashes. It was as if they were right above my room. I glanced at my clock, 12:06am. I laid there until they ended thinking about everyone I miss & realizing this was going to be the first independence day I spend without celebrating in the U.S. Besides the fireworks this morning, which could have been shot off for any reason (I've heard fireworks many times here), nothing else reminded me of the holiday today.

I spent the entire day with Patricia & here family. She & her husband have two sons Facundo (6) & Tommy (13). I helped her make an amazing lunch of homemade noodles, meatballs, tomato sauce, salad & bread. I then spent most of the afternoon playing games & running a few errands with them. Patricia & I then met up with her friend & her sister to visit a home where they sell clothes & random accessories. The house was huge, by far the nicest I have been to while here. After looking at everything the ladies there served us delicious coffee & cakes while they all spoke a mile a minute. I can nearly follow any conversation now. If I can figure out the topic, even if I don't catch every word, it's fairly easy to follow what's going on. Needless to say, I am exhausted.

While listening to the ladies & observing their body language, I realized just how odd & awkward Americans must seem to foreigners sometimes. Americans would come off so cold, unfriendly & awkward on first impression. Here, when you meet some one for the first time you feel so welcomed. They do everything they can to make you feel comfortable. You can tell they are genuinely interested in who you are. When I attend youth or college church meetings there are always 2 or 3 people that look out for me, sit with me & include me in everything they do. I also love that people here exchange kisses on the cheek when greeting & saying goodbye. I've gotten so used to doing it, I hope I don't go home & completely freak some one out.

This weekend has been tough for me though. I really miss people, it was difficult knowing I wasn't there for my best friend Hannah's big day & not celebrating today was kinda sad.

I love you all, thinking & praying for you.
Happy Independence Day from South America!

Michaela Rae

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy July, boy how time flies

Things have really begun to pick up as we start preparing for the Corazones Abiertos intensive seminar July 13th-18th. I have spent the last few nights loosing track of time in work. Before I know it it's 11pm. I'm preparing the materials for the leaders, creating pamphlets, handmade notebooks, affirmation cards, powerpoints, nametags, etc. I will be participating in a group during the seminar so I'm also working through a large manual, which requires lots of reading & writing in Spanish.

However, yesterday we did take most of the day off which was great. We woke up early & headed downtown to enjoy a wonderful breakfast. Once again, I can't express how much I love the coffee & facturas (pastries) here. After breakfast we went to an art museum, the marcado central (central market), & I visted a few stores searching for gifts to take back home. It is an incredible feeling spending 74,00 (they use , instead of a .) pesos but knowing it's only 19 bucks in US dollars. Although it's cheap, it's hard for me to remember to carry around so many pesos. After la siesta, Beth & I took the bus back downtown to buy suplies for the seminar & also so I could learn the bus routes. I hope to go back soon to do more exploring on my own.

This morning I woke up, had toast & cofé con leche & started making home made bread! Right now it is rising. I enjoy all the small culture lessons I learn here, like how they make bread or why people are obsessed with cleaning their sidewalks.

Some interesting things I have noted so far:

1) when you say thank you for something here there is typically no response. For instance, thanking some one for giving you a ride or for making you food. Thanking people just doesn't seem normal here. I'm curious whether people find it seemingly ungenuin or if they simply don't see a need to thank any one.

2) phone numbers, depending on how many people live in the city, may be 6, 7 or 8 digits long. In Buenos Aires they are 8. Here in Mendoza they are 6.

3) there are no public bathrooms. if your kid needs to pee, you simply let he or she drop their pants on the side of the road & pee into a bush or acequia.

4) people here do not speak "Spanish" they speak "Castellano." this distinction is very important to them. as one guy explained it to me, "Spanish is spoken in SPAIN, Castellano is what WE speak. We don't have those lispy accents, Castellano is more beautiful."

5) In cooking, Argentines don't use measuring cups.

6) Buy a book? No, get it photocopied. Although there are copyright laws, like most laws here, they aren't obeyed or inforced.

7) Everyone citizen 18+ is forced to vote. Last Sunday were elections. Everyone despises them. Also, they have had the same method for voting since the 50's. It is so slow, people have to stand in line for HOURS.

I'm missing friends & family, but I'm loving my time here as well.
Michaela Rae